Ethics Case Study of the Week: Wearing a Fitness Tracker

By Gary Sarkissian posted 07-25-2022 08:00

CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct outline the ethical guidelines for the investment profession that are critical to maintaining the integrity of capital markets and investor trust.  Members, candidates, and even firms make a commitment to uphold these standards as they help elevate ethical decision-making among industry participants.  

As investment professionals, we face important ethical decisions in our day-to-day activities.  Some scenarios we encounter will be straightforward, while others may be more complex.  No matter the circumstances, continuous learning remains imperative in an evolving investment industry and an adapting regulatory environment. 

For that reason, each week we feature a sample ethics case to help reinforce the code and standards.  Many cases are built upon real-life examples that may involve a regulatory matter or even a CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigation.  At the end of each case is a multiple-choice question that addresses the ethical nature of the actions taken in that case.  

This week’s case involves Standard VII(A) Conduct as Participants in CFA Institute Programs.

Wearing a Fitness Tracker
Ocampo is sitting for Level II of the CFA® exam. She feels confident that she is prepared for the exam because she has spent many hours studying the curriculum. On the day of the exam, she brings study material with her to the exam site for last minute preparation. Prior to taking her seat, she leaves all her material in the personal belongings area but keeps on her Fitbit when she takes her seat for the exam. About halfway through the afternoon session of the exam, a proctor notices Ocampo wearing the Fitbit. He asks her to remove it and reports Ocampo to CFA Institute. Ocampo’s actions are

 A. acceptable because the device is common, and she wears it all the time.
 B. acceptable as long as she never looked at the device or “used it.”
 C. acceptable because the proctor did not speak to her about the Fitbit before the exam began.
 D. acceptable if she promptly took the Fitbit to the personal belongings area and left it with her exam preparation materials once notified by the proctor.
 E. none of the above.

Click the “Analysis” button below to see the analysis for this case, and feel free to discuss in the comments below.  The completion of this case qualifies for 0.25 hour of Standards, Ethics, and Regulation (SER) credit

CFA exam rules prohibit the possession of wearable technology, such as a Fitbit or other fitness tracking devices, in the testing room. Whether the device is common, the candidate routinely wears the device, or the candidate does not use the technology during the exam are not acceptable excuses for violating this policy. Candidates are responsible for knowing, understanding, and abiding by all CFA exam rules and procedures. Although CFA exam administrators vigilantly enforce testing rules and diligently bring nonconforming conduct to the attention of candidates prior to the start of the exam, candidates cannot rely on the proctors or other test center personnel to notice and prevent candidates from violating CFA exam rules and procedures.

Even if Ocampo promptly took the Fitbit to the personal belongings area during the afternoon session, this belated compliance with the policy does not obviate her misconduct on that point. Ocampo’s conduct violated CFA exam rules and policies as well as the CFA Institute Standard of Professional Conduct VII(A): Conduct as Participants in CFA Institute Programs by engaging in conduct that compromises the integrity, validity, or security of the CFA Program. She will be subject to an investigation by the CFA Institute Professional Conduct Program and, if found to be in violation, her exam results will be voided. Choice E is the best response.

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© 2019 CFA Institute. All rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this content, without modification and for non-commercial purposes, provided you attribute the content to CFA Institute and retain this copyright notice.  This case was written as a basis for discussion and is not prescriptive of how a business situation or professional conduct matter should or should not be handled or addressed. Certain characters mentioned are fictional to facilitate discussion, and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.